Posts

March 04, 2015

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6:01 AM | "P: "I am now happier"
This story about leaving graduate school is from "P"; it has been lightly edited for formatting. I quit graduate school (not chemistry but a closely related field) after 3 years, around the time I was starting to write up my thesis.Why did you leave?A combination of reasons:I wasn’t enjoying my project. This had been getting slowly worse over time and I was at a stage where it just didn’t interest me at all.I was already pretty sure that I wasn’t going to stay in academia […]

March 03, 2015

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4:42 PM | "LB": "Some nights I think about how different my life might have been"
Today's story about leaving graduate school is from "LB"; it has been redacted for privacy and edited for clarity. Why did you leave? Your thought process in leaving? A number of reasons come to mind in retrospect.  First, there would be reasons what I now classify under environmental factors. I belonged to a small town in the midwest and moved to [California] for my PhD. [Big West Coast City] itself was hard to deal with---too many people with too much attitude, and I hardly had […]

March 02, 2015

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4:21 PM | Why place matters
From an anonymous reader, a Boston-area Amgen recruiting billboard. I have seen this for coders, but never for "biotech professionals."(Of course, I've only lived in one of BioSpace's "hotbeds.")(12 "hotbeds"?!?!? You gotta be kidding me.) 
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4:13 PM | Nice to see
This past August, I took a day to visit national ACS meeting in San Francisco; I was badged as press, even! I sat in on a portion of the Sunday meeting of the Committee on Economic and Professional Affairs. I thought it was interesting to watch the committee members discuss and debate the ACS policy statement on retirement security. Here's a portion of the final statement: ...A concern is that small companies and businesses, such as chemical or high-tech start-ups, can be […]
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3:58 PM | Oh, that's all
From the letters to the editor in this week's C&EN:I don’t know why there was such a flurry of indignant letters about the review of the book “The Birth of the Pill” (C&EN, Sept. 22, 2014, page 32). This is a book for a popular audience by an author whose claims to fame are books about baseball and Al Capone. It might better have been titled “Politics, Religion, and the Pill,” but it certainly was not designed to explore the intricacies of organic […]
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3:53 PM | This week's C&EN
Plenty of interesting tidbits in this week's C&EN:Long feature today about persistent organic pollutants by Stephen Ritter; I had never heard of the Kepone story. Yikes. I see NIH is wanting more peer reviewers for grants. (by Andrea Widener)Stu Borman covers the discovery of the protein targets of englerin A - I confess I had not heard of this natural product. Marc Reisch looks at a carbon nanotube startup called Molecular Rebar Design. (I did not know that global demand for […]
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12:17 PM | Two articles on understanding statistical error
Today I want to share two articles today which call on the public to try to understand scientific error at a deeper level than we do now. First, an academic journal called Basic and Applied Social Psychology (BASP) has decided to ban articles using p-values. This was written up in Nature news (hat tip Nikki Leger) […]
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8:00 AM | Introducing Evonomics
What is Evonomics? Evonomics is an online magazine and intellectual movement built on the pillars of complexity science and evolutionary principles, and includes key insights from the synthesis that has slowly been growing across disciplines in areas like behavioral, experimental, institutional, and ecological economics. The magazine showcases the new scientific foundations for human nature and […]

March 01, 2015

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3:12 PM | Taking a short break--no post this week
I'm taking a short break this week and next and expect to post again on Sunday, March 15.

February 28, 2015

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5:10 PM | Aunt Pythia’s advice
People! Do you really hate my advice? Do you disagree with everything I ever say, and wish you had an outlet for your frustration? If so, good news for you today. I have officially found the place in the world where you can get advice which is the exact opposite of mine, namely by watching […]

February 27, 2015

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2:58 PM | Gotta love George Whitesides
Courtesy of See Arr Oh (who has a very cogent (and funny) post on this), here's George Whitesides criticizing (again) the chemical industry: This choice of direction has had several consequences: 1) it has ended (or constrained in scope and character) the unique and mutually beneficial intellectual partnership between industrial and academic chemistry that characterized the 1960s to 1980s (Figure 3). 2) It has increasingly limited the number of jobs for chemists in industry, and made a […]
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11:22 AM | For Profit Colleges Are The Real Villain
Scott Walker has recently made waves in Wisconsin by surreptitiously attempting to change the mission of the University of Wisconsin, and by threatening to remove $300 million of federal aid to the University of Wisconsin, citing the “laziness of professors” as a problem in need of a solution. On the one hand, he’s right to […]
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8:00 AM | A week of links
Links this week: The Lancet’s obesity predictions. Design things to be difficult. HT: Rory Sutherland Is there any known safe level of government funding? Increasing diversity by hiring groups, not individuals. Plenty of critiques of nudge-style interventions popping up, although they are rarely done well. Here’s another. And what is a nudge? A perspective on consumer […]

February 26, 2015

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7:49 PM | Now that's an unfortunate title
I suspect this is actually one of those academic drug discovery former-pharma group leader positions, but tagging it with "adjunct professor series" is kinda painful. 
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4:25 PM | Daily Pump Trap: 2/26/15 edition
A few of the positions posted at C&EN Jobs this week:Cleveland, OH: West-Ward Pharmaceuticals is hiring for 4 positions, including a B.S./M.S. Scientist I position. (0-2 years experience.) (Zeroes!)Malvern, PA: Progenra (new company?) is looking for 2 experienced medicinal chemists, 1-10 years experience, all levels of education.Menlo Park, CA: Pacific Biosciences is looking for a surface chemist, M.S./Ph.D., 5 years experience desired.A broader look: Monster, Careerbuilder, Indeed and […]
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3:38 PM | What is Global Pharma Tek's business model?
Saw this ad through an Indeed search. What is this about? Global Pharma Tek has a website listing lots of QA/QC-type/GMP positions; something tells me that this is a temp/recruiting service that hires international folks only?I'm confused.(Hey, check out their partners - including the "Havard Clinical Research Institute." Something is very fishy here.) 
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11:48 AM | Big Data Is The New Phrenology
Have you ever heard of phrenology? It was, once upon a time, the “science” of measuring someone’s skull to understand their intellectual capabilities. This sounds totally idiotic but was a huge fucking deal in the mid-1800’s, and really didn’t stop getting some credit until much later. I know that because I happen to own the […]

February 25, 2015

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11:31 PM | Bill Carroll: "to get the sharp corners knocked off you"
I have thrown a fair bit of criticism at ACS director-at-large Bill Carroll's way over the years. That said, like every experienced industrial chemist (even the ones who have left the lab), he has good tales to tell. He's starting a blog over at the ACS Network. I thought his first post was a good one, where he talks about his first years in industry: When I got there, my assignment had been changed from the sexy new polymer to working with impact modifiers for poly(vinyl […]
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4:35 PM | Student Debt Strikers Take On Corinthian College
Fifteen students have refused to pay back their student debt to Everest College, owned by the now disgraced for-profit company Corinthian College. They call themselves “the Corinthian 15″. Good for them. Corinthian College is a predatory and fraudulent company which was in the business of gaming the federal loan system while making false promises to its students. […]
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8:00 AM | Accepting heritability
At Stumbling and Mumbling, Chris Dillow writes: [M]aybe some lefties do reject the heritability of IQ on ideological grounds. I want to make another point – that there’s no need for them to do so. You can accept that IQ (or ability generally) is heritable and still be a strong egalitarian. I say this because […]

February 24, 2015

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5:05 PM | Job postings: senior scientist II, Abbvie, North Chicago; chemistry project manager, Wuppertal, Germany; senior analytical chemist, Cambridge, MA
From the inbox:AbbVie: A process chemistry position: B.S./M.S./Ph.D. desired.Wuppertal, Germany: A chemistry project manager position at Aicuris (new drug discovery firm?). No education requirement.Cambridge, MA: Another analytical chemistry position at Broad, this time Ph.D. level.Best wishes to those interested. 
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4:22 PM | Daily Pump Trap: 2/24/15 edition
A few of the positions posted on C&EN Jobs:INVISTA: The Koch Brothers are hiring, with 6 positions over the last week.Pleasanton, CA: Clorox is doing its usual spring hiring -- anyone have any comment about these positions?Berkeley, CA: LBNL is hiring a "chemist research scientist" to manage its catalysis research facility. Ph.D. and 5 years experience desired.Long Island, NY: Brookhaven is hiring a chemist/physicist for synchotron work. Ph.D. and 3 years of relevant experience […]
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3:48 PM | Job posting: 2 visiting assistant professorships, Crawfordsville, IN
From the inbox: Visiting Assistant Professor of Analytical Chemistry The Wabash College Chemistry Department invites applications for a one-year position in Analytical Chemistry to begin July 1, 2015. Undergraduate and Ph.D. degrees in chemistry required. The successful candidate will teach analytical chemistry and contribute to first-year chemistry courses.  The Chemistry Department is ACS certified, has six full-time faculty, excellent facilities and instrumentation, and […]
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3:43 PM | How Big Philanthropy Undermines Democracy
I’m really looking forward to tonight’s panel on mega-foundations and democracy, organized by the Big Apple Coffee Party. I will be the moderator of the event, which takes place at 6:30 tonight at All Soul’s Church at 1157 Lexington Avenue and is open to the public. In preparation, I’m reading the article that inspired tonight’s discussion, […]
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3:38 PM | Ivory Filter Flask: 2/24/15 edition
A few of the academic positions posted on the C&EN Jobs website:Rise of the VAPs: Everyone's looking for visiting assistant professors...Davidson, NC: Davidson College is looking for a visiting assistant professor of organic chemistry.Huntsville, TX: Sam Houston State University desires a visiting assistant professor of general chemistry.Hamilton, NY: Colgate University wishes to hire a visiting assistant professor for a 2-year term, any subject.Forest Grove, OR: Pacific University seeks 2 […]

February 23, 2015

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8:51 PM | This week's C&EN
Lots of interesting tidbits:Looking forward to reading this long Sarah Everts piece on chemical weapons and Fritz Haber. Fascinated by this Lenora Walet article about countermeasures for counterfeiting in pharmaceuticals. Nice article by Susan Ainsworth on the ACS Career Navigator (and other ACS leadership issues.) Interesting emphasis on professional courses. Steven Hardinger asks a great question on teaching in the letters to the editor.
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4:40 PM | Worthwhile safety warning on nitrogen in plant-scale Grignard quenches
From th'Gaussling:...Performing a “kill reaction” or a quench of a reactive metal at the bench or at scale is always problematic and requires the skill and close attention of the process chemists and operators. I guess what I’d like to pass on is that nitrogen is not an innocent spectator in the presence of finely divided, activated magnesium. Humid nitrogen can support a combustion reaction to produce nitrided magnesium once preheated to an onset temperature. If you mean […]
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8:00 AM | Wisdom from Tolstoy
I have just finished Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace, and along the way marked a couple of passages. The first two fit with the story that much behavioural science is formalisation of common sense. First, hindsight bias: In historical works on the year 1812 French writers are very fond of saying that Napoleon felt the danger of […]

February 22, 2015

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4:26 PM | What is Saudi Arabia not telling us about its oil future?
It is popular these days to speculate about why Saudi Arabia cajoled its OPEC allies into maintaining oil production in the face of flagging world demand. As the price the world pays for oil and oil products has plummeted, the price OPEC members are paying in terms of lower revenues is high, even unbearable for those who didn't save up for just such a rainy day.Was the real reason for the decision to maintain production the desire to undermine rising U.S. tight oil production--which has now […]

February 21, 2015

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2:56 PM | Guest Post: Porn, Consent, and Obamneycare for Sex
This is guest post by Michael Carey. In his own words: I am a decidedly “alternative” math nerd, working in an environment where I’m on the wrong end of power and status relationships with a handful of conservatives.  (Like, “willing to say nasty things about the gays in public” conservatives.)  I have been an occasional pseudonymous […]
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